Two hours ago I was stuck in a traffic jam in Rawalpindi. Sitting in the taxi with no change of scene for half an hour I was getting angry and frustrated. I started complaining about the state of lawlessness in this country, the unnecessary honking, the multiple vehicle lanes on a 4-lane road, while my brain kept populating my mental list of ‘reasons I wouldn’t like to live in Pakistan’. As an avid patriot boastfully proud of the cultural heritage this soil bears, why people who go abroad find it difficult to come back and settle here became crystal clear to me all of a sudden. Pakistan is unbearable!
After what seemed like a century as the vehicle made it closer to the intersection the reason for the jam became apparent; the traffic lights were not functioning and there were no police personnel to regulate the flow of traffic. A few individuals had taken it upon themselves to direct the traffic – rather poorly done nonetheless a much-appreciated effort. I also made some other observations: as much as those individuals were trying people were not paying much attention to them. The individual lifted his hand to a car indicating it to stop, but as any Pakistani would expect, it didn’t stop and so the stream of vehicles in its wake kept going, leaving the others bewildered and stuck. Drivers from all directions would then barge right into the intersection clearly not comprehending that was precisely the problem. If people were respectful and more accommodating the situation wouldn’t have been too bad.
As it was everyone was trying to keep driving. Amidst the mayhem someone from a car yelled at a taxi driver “tujhe bari jaldi hai har**i” (aren’t you in a hurry a**hole). I can bet that individual wouldn’t have said anything to a driver in a car. A dirty look and some mumbling would have been enough. I am waiting for the day when social standing wouldn’t be a factor in person-to-person dealings among Pakistanis.
Pakistan does not only refer to the 800,000 square-kilometre of terrestrial land. Pakistan refers to its people and their attributes, their relationships with each other and what they do and how they behave when away from their homeland. I have yet to form an opinion on whether the current state of the Pakistan is the result of a top-to-down phenomenon sprouting from incompetent leadership, or the argument that even leaders are from the public itself and represent at-large attitudes is stronger. But Pakistan has become unbearable because Pakistanis are losing human values – the society resembling a jungle inhabited by Homo sapiens.